Criminal Justice Major: Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice

GMercyU’s Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice combines innovative classroom and experiential learning to prepare you for law school, graduate school, or immediate entry into careers in the public or private sector – whether in government, law enforcement, corrections, probation and parole, private security, or social justice and advocacy.

No matter what your path, you’ll learn how to make a positive impact in your life and your community.

As a Criminal Justice major, you'll explore patterns of criminal behavior, the philosophy of punishment for crimes, and the American legal system. You’ll learn to identify and analyze crimes using criminological theory, forensic science, and the latest in crime scene investigations. And, whether you are learning to investigate an active crime scene, break down a drug conspiracy, or examine the behavior of a sexual predator, you will develop the key skills that employers most want – such as critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving — skills that have never been more relevant.

Program Details

Why Choose GMercyU

The most comprehensive and flexible criminal justice program in the Philadelphia region, you can dive deep into a specific interest within the field, or discover the right path for you. You will find a close-knit, supportive, and motivated community with professors who are invested in your success.

And, you will benefit from:

Small classes with GMercyU’s low 10:1 student-to-faculty ratio, taught by experts in the field – no teaching assistants.

A transformational experience with GMercyU’s Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program® (see more below), which will challenge your viewpoints and offer you a new perspective on the criminal justice system.

Regional criminal justice leaders as guest speakers. Former Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey visited campus to discuss the importance of a college education before entering the police force, while world-renowned criminologist Dr. Jack Levin spoke to GMercyU students about serial killing and mass murder.

The chance to earn your Act 120 – an essential step to becoming a police officer – during your senior year as part of your four-year degree at no extra cost, unlike other criminal justice programs. (See more on this below.)

The opportunity to present your own research at GMercyU’s annual University Research Conference! Topics from our Spring 2020 conference included:

  • “Who Is Responsible for the Opioid Epidemic: The Physician or Patients?”
  • “Recognizing Human Trafficking as a First Responder”
  • “What Motivates Hackers to Commit Crime?”

The Griffin Edge will help you connect the dots between your GMercyU experiences and your future aspirations, so you can ace future job interviews and launch a successful career. Learn more about the Griffin Edge below. 

Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program®

GMercyU’s Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program® brings incarcerated and non-incarcerated students together as peers for weekly meetings at the Federal Detention Center of Philadelphia.

During the meetings, GMercyU “outside” students and “inside” students exchange thoughts and perspectives about social inequalities, prison reform, and restorative justice. Students have described it as a life-changing experience. Learn more about the program here, or watch the video below.

Earn Your Act 120

As a GMercyU Criminal Justice major, you have the option of attending the Montgomery County Police Academy at the Montgomery County Community College. Here, you can earn your Act 120, an essential step in pursuing a career as a police officer.

Once you are accepted into GMercyU's Criminal Justice Program, this special training is offered during your senior year as part of your four-year degree without extended time or expense, unlike other criminal justice schools.


In addition to General Education requirements, students seeking a criminal justice degree must complete the following courses:  

Major requirements

CRJ 102 Introduction to Criminal Justice
CRJ 215 Criminology
CRJ 216 Race, Class, and Ethnicity
CRJ 220 Ethics in Criminal Justice
CRJ 225 Juvenile Delinquency
CRJ 250 Police & Law Enforcement in America
CRJ 251  Victimology
CRJ 310 Introduction to Criminal Justice Research
CRJ 320 Forensics: Crime Scene Investigation
CRJ 326 Criminal Procedures
CRJ 327 Criminal Law
CRJ 370 Corrections
CRJ 405 Criminal Investigations
CRJ 410 Courts in America
CRJ 435 Criminal Justice Internship(s)
CRJ 4000 CRJ Capstone
CRJ 4 Criminal Justice Electives: Cultural Criminology; Stalking & Domestic Violence; Violence & Criminal Justice; Sexual Deviance; Wrongful Convictions; Organized Crime; Terrorism & Hate Groups; White Collar Crime; Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program®

Credit Requirements

A minimum of 120 credits is required for the bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice.

Undergraduate Minors

Increase the value of your criminal justice degree by adding an undergraduate minor. GMercyU offers a wide variety of minors so you can choose the one that best meets your personal and professional goals.

Featured Courses

Wondering what your classes will look like as a Criminal Justice major? Here are a few highlights.

CRJ 205 Stalking and Domestic Violence
You will look at the social factors that contribute to the incidence and prevalence of both stalking and domestic violence and examine victim outcomes and the criminal justice response to these crimes.

CRJ 303 Sexual Deviance
You will study the characteristics and development of sexual deviance, as well as examine the criminological, psychological, and physiological components of addiction. Specialized offenders such as pedophiles, juvenile offenders, and cyberstalkers are examined, with the hope of shedding light on how these perpetrators operate and how to spot them.

CRJ 304 Wrongful Convictions
This course will cover the causes of wrongful convictions. You will also examine the role system variables play in such convictions such as police line-ups, expert testimony, witness preparation, judicial discretion, and jury bias.

CRJ 311 Organized Crime
This course is a study of the many facets of organized crime. The theoretical explanations behind organized crime groups will be examined. You will build and operate your own organized crime syndicate, then utilize the criminal justice system to dismantle your syndicate.

For all Criminal Justice course descriptions, please refer to the undergraduate catalog.

Meet the Faculty

Patrick McGrain, PhD

Position: Program Coordinator and Associate Professor, Criminal Justice

Did You Know? Professor McGrain is co-author of the book Inside the Minds of Social Predators.

Learn More

Lorraine Phillips, PhD

Position: Assistant Professor, Criminal Justice

Did You Know? One of Professor Phillips’ focuses is the intersection of psychology and law.

Learn More

Real-World Opportunities

The Griffin Edge

The Griffin Edge is comprised of five touchpoints -- Excellence, Engagement, Experience, Empathy, and Encouragement -- that become the cornerstones of your Distinctive Mercy Experience as a full-time undergraduate student.

The Griffin Edge includes an e-portfolio for documenting your GMercyU educational and extra-curricular experiences (no matter your major), reflecting on those experiences, and receiving feedback from faculty. It's designed to help you take ownership of your educational journey and chart the right career path for you. It will also help you learn how to talk about your college experiences in meaningful ways — and that can make all the difference in a job interview. 

For example, a student might say in a job interview: "I conducted research at the undergraduate level." 

A Griffin Edge student might say: "The opportunity to conduct my own research alongside expert faculty taught me the importance of being exact in my data collection and analysis. I was even able to present my findings at our annual research conference! I know this is the career for me."

Learn more about the Griffin Edge here.

Internship Opportunities

Through internships, GMercyU’s Criminal Justice majors have gained real-world experience and made valuable networking connections at the following organizations.

  • Abington Police Department
  • ATF Field Office
  • Bucks County Adult Probation/Parole Department
  • Bucks County Juvenile Probation
  • City of Philadelphia: Office of Forensic Science
  • Day Break Drug Treatment Ready
  • Federal Public Defender, Camden NJ
  • GMercyU Public Safety Department
  • Lansdale Police Department
  • Montgomery County Department of Corrections
  • Montgomery County Detective Bureau
  • Montgomery County Department of Probation and Parole
  • Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office
  • Montgomery County Youth Center
  • Norristown Police Department
  • Pennsylvania State Police
  • Philadelphia Department of Probation & Parole
  • Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office
  • Philadelphia Justice Center
  • Philadelphia Police Department Crime Scene Unit
  • Pottstown Police Department
  • Target – Department of Loss Prevention
  • Upper Dublin Police Department
  • U.S. Department of Homeland Security
  • Warrington Police Department 
Career Opportunities

Earning a BS in Criminal Justice can lead you to an exciting and well-paid career that enables you to serve your community in a meaningful way. Here are just a few of the many opportunities you could pursue.


Description: Work as a public defender or district attorney or pursue the type of law that most appeals to your interests and passions.
Degree Requirements: A bachelor’s degree, followed by a degree in law.
Average Salary: The national median annual pay is $97,400.*

Criminal Investigator

Description: Put your analytical skills to use as a police detective or private investigator as you work on criminal cases and gather evidence to be used in court.
Degree Requirements: A bachelor’s degree.
Average Salary: The national median annual pay is $54,600.*

Probation Officer

Description: Help keep criminal offenders who are on probation on the right path by regularly meeting with them, monitoring them, and arranging social services for them. You’ll also document everything for the court.
Degree Requirements: A bachelor’s degree.
Average Salary: The national median annual pay is $43,300, with the potential of nearly $80,000 after 10 years of experience.*

*According to Burning Glass Technologies.

More Possible Careers for Criminal Justice Majors

  • Body Guard
  • Border Patrol Agent
  • CIA Agent
  • Community Service Coordinator
  • Compliance Manager
  • Corrections Officer
  • Deportation Officer
  • Detective
  • Drug Enforcement Agent
  • FBI Agent
  • Firefighter
  • Juvenile Court Counselor
  • Law Enforcement Officer
  • Paralegal
  • Parole Officer
  • Police Detective
  • Private Investigator
  • Secret Service Agent
  • Social Worker
  • State Police Officer
  • Substance Abuse Counselor
  • Teacher
  • US Marshall

*This is only a partial list and not meant to limit you. Some of these careers may require additional education.

Wondering Where You Might Eventually Work?

GMercyU criminal justice alumni have recently made their mark at these organizations:

  • Abington Police Department
  • ATF Field Office
  • Bucks County Juvenile Probation  Bucks County Clerk of Courts, Criminal Division
  • Hatboro Police Department
  • Lansdale Police Department Mission Kids Child Advocacy Center
  • Montgomery County Clerk of Courts
  • Montgomery County Department of Corrections
  • Montgomery County Department of Probation and Parole
  • Norristown Police Department
  • Pennsylvania State Police
  • Philadelphia Department of Probation & Parole
  • Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office
  • Philadelphia Police Department Crime Scene Unit
  • Pottstown Police Department SEPTA Police Department
  • Target – Department of Loss Prevention
  • Upper Dublin Police Department Upper Moreland Police Department
  • U.S. Department of Homeland Security
  • Walmart – Loss Prevention Unit
  • Warrington Police Department
Griffin Success Stories

Meet two former GMercyU Criminal Justice majors, now Distinctive Mercy Graduates.

Sarah Crane ’19

Current Position: Law student at Lincoln University’s Duncan School of Law

Sarah interned at the Philadelphia City Hall while a student at GMercyU. She also conducted and presented independent research on natural disasters and crime rates. A student-athlete and member of the Criminal Justice National Honor Society, Sarah also completed the GSLI Exceptional Leaders Program, and was a Disciplinary Hearing Board Member and peer tutor.

“GMercyU taught me to understand dense theories by compartmentalizing all of the required elements and seeing how each element is essential to that theory. This has been increasingly helpful in understanding law and legal concepts.” Learn more about Sarah's experience.

Greg Borgmann ’13

Current Position: Police Officer, Upper Dublin Township Police Department

Greg attended the Montgomery County Police Academy while attending GMercyU and was offered a job before he graduated. While at GMercyU, Greg was also a member of the Criminal Justice Club and Student Government Association, as well as captain of the track & field team, the record holder for the discus and javelin.

“I had the most amazing and caring professors who I’m still in contact with. I had the opportunity to go to the police academy, and to practice serving others through my campus activities.” Learn more about Greg's experience.

Read more Griffin Success Stories.

Next Steps

Criminal Justice Viewbook

Learn more about what it's like to be a Criminal Justice major by exploring our viewbook!

Admission Requirements

Have questions about GMercyU's admissions requirements? Contact us! Our Admissions staff is ready to walk you through the process of applying to GMercyU’s Criminal Justice Program.

Phone: 215-641-5510

Financial Aid, Tuition & Fees

At GMercyU, we strive to make a quality education accessible to all through financial aid, scholarships, and grants. As a military-friendly university, we welcome service members and participate in all VA educational benefits programs. 

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Get the education you need for a fulfilling career in criminal justice. Earn your Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice at GMercyU!